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  • 03 June 2019
  • 4 min read

Mental health services must better address needs of young, report concludes

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The Youth Commission was supported by the Scottish Association for Mental Health, the Government and Young Scot.

A change in thinking is needed for Scotland to better address mental health, according to a report produced by young people from across the country.

The findings of Scotland’s first Youth Commission on mental health were published on Friday following a 16-month project in which the views of 23 young people aged 15 to 25 with varying experiences of mental health services were heard.

Supported by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), the Scottish Government and Young Scot, the commission engaged with young people, service providers and other relevant sectors before publishing recommendations on how mental health services should be accessed and operated.

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The Youth Commission is the first in Scotland to report on mental health (Young Scot/PA)

The commission made recommendations covering a number of areas, including education, community and public opinions, finance, policy and rights, and training.

In its recommendations, the commission said access to peer-to-peer support should be provided in every secondary school, with mental health education embedded within the curriculum.

It also said mental health first aid training should be a standard requirement for all organisations working with young people – bringing it in line with laws about physical first aid.

The commission highlighted that “funding is a key issue for services and organisations”, and said “a lack of money impacts on services not being able to operate to the best of their ability”.

In its conclusions, it said mental health must be taken seriously and insisted that its recommendations could help to provide “clear world-leading mental health services for young people”.

Commission member Neva Brown said: “I joined the Youth Commission because I’d seen too many people not get the help when they needed it, even when they had tried to access help.

“I also felt with my own personal experience I’d be able to help so many people and stop them from going through what I had to.

“I have gained so much from being a part of the Youth Commission, I started as a very anxious person that would struggle to go anywhere myself, to someone that travels across Scotland by themselves and has the confidence to speak openly about mental health issues.

“I hope the Youth Commission allows more young people to know their rights regarding their mental health and makes services more accessible to everyone, so no-one is left to suffer alone.” 

SAMH on Twitter.

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said the Government will study the commission’s report.

She added: “I’d like to thank the Youth Commission for their comprehensive report looking at how we can work together to improve mental health services for children and young people across Scotland.

“The report, and the amount of work that has gone into it, is a credit to Young Scot, SAMH and all the young people involved, who have shown bravery and tenacity in bringing their own personal experiences to this project.

“We will carefully consider how we can take the Youth Commission’s recommendations forward, and we will give you a full response in the coming months.”

Young Scot chief executive Louise Macdonald said: “This report was produced by young people who are passionate about how young people can lead the way in shaping our services and setting out a vision for mental health services which benefits all young people.

“These recommendations are a huge step in realising how young people can act as system changers, influencing areas of their lives that affect them most.”

Billy Watson, of SAMH, said: “The Youth Commission for Mental Health Services has provided young people with the opportunity to play a significant role in shaping the mental health agenda, creating lasting change for the delivery of mental health services for generations to come.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition added: “The report from Scotland’s first Youth Commission on Mental Health is to be greatly welcomed and highlights the fundamental changes that are required if we are to support young people with mental health problems.”

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